Fantasy football: Five things to consider before drafting Kareem Hunt

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Jul 24, 2019Tristan H. CockcroftESPN Senior Writer CloseSenior writer for ESPN.com
Co-host of the Fantasy Focus Baseball podcast
Two-time LABR, three-time Tout Wars champion
Member of the FSWA Hall of FameOnly three running backs were more productive in terms of PPR fantasy points than Kareem Hunt during the first 28 weeks of his NFL career. His 525.4 PPR fantasy points between 2017 Week 1 and 2018 Week 11 trailed only Todd Gurley II’s 680.7 and Alvin Kamara’s 583.1 during that time span.It’s understandable, therefore, that Hunt’s prospective fantasy managers are tantalized by the prospect of him again emerging as a high-level starter with the Cleveland Browns.Here’s the problem: Hunt will begin the season suspended for eight games, spanning the first nine weeks of the 2019 schedule, a wrinkle that presents a host of potential problems for those who draft him. That’s not to say Hunt isn’t worth drafting at all, but if you’re going to, be aware of the risks involved.For the purposes of this column, let’s put aside personal opinions — the oft-cited “I refuse to draft Player X for Y reason” — regarding the cause of Hunt’s suspension. Fantasy football is a numbers-based game, so what follows addresses only his possible statistical contributions in 2019.Here are the things you must take into consideration before you pick Hunt in your fantasy draft:You need to stay afloat in the standings through Week 9Obvious as this might seem, Hunt’s prospective fantasy managers will need to keep their teams in contention deep enough into the season in order for him to make any sort of impact at all. And they’ll need to do so not only without any contribution from him before Week 10, but also while locking down his roster spot with exactly zero fantasy points through those first nine weeks. Considering how unpredictable the football season — and therefore fantasy results — can be, that’s not as simple as it seems.What about the team that begins the season 0-3, especially one that faces a great volume of early-week byes or early-season injuries? Having Hunt continue to take up a roster spot might be a luxury that team can no longer afford. A team that decides to draft him should have a plan in place for early-season misfortune, one that doesn’t involve sending Hunt to free agency at a foolish time.Here’s why: As the season dawns, Hunt is available to you for only eight of 17 weeks, or 47% (50% if your league uses 16 weeks). For each week that passes, that percentage increases, as does his potential impact, and with it his trade/free-agent pickup value. Drafting Hunt, then dropping him after six, four or even two bad weeks from your team, means that you’ve absorbed zero contribution from his roster spot, plus freed him up to other bidders at a time of the season when his value is almost unquestionably greater than it was on draft

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